There’s been a lot of bad poetry written about spring. And I’ve contributed paper scraps to the great compost heap of odes to daffodils and redbirds, words that don’t really fly. But I think we all understand the inspiration, the reason we want to celebrate when birds arrive and the frogs call out from the creek.
There is that first evening each year when I realize it’s still light outside and the porch would be a good place to sit for a while. It finally came last week. I needed it. And I stared out at the old barn and the large white ash tree across the road, nearly perfectly symmetrical. If there were a modeling agency for trees, I’d give it a call. I’ve snapped shots of it in the spring, in the fall, in the snow. It’s the last to get leaves and the last to lose them.
I lifted my eyes above the white ash to the long white chalk marks in the sky, the jets passing with people looking thousands of feet below to see the new green on the ground, the invisible specks of me and you. At such distance, we’re not even ants to each other. It goes both ways. But we’re important to someone.
That evening, I heard the little footsteps inside, but I watched the life in the trees, neglected the duties of childhood bedtime brokering for a few moments, thought about time, about how beautiful the world is when the life is breathed back into it. There are those little times you’ve got to take for yourself before you shut the door and handle the daily routines. And that first feeling of spring is certainly a moment to savor.
Our family packed up Saturday for my parents’ house, 107 miles south of here. My mother and father celebrated their 40th anniversary last week. My father said it was amazing we were all healthy for the occasion. Week after week, our phone calls have been recaps of doctor’s visits, or admonitions of needing to visit the doctor (me to my parents). I know a lot of other families have had the same kind of winter: hacking coughs, a stomach virus, the fevers, the flu.
I think of the old house behind ours. It was built in the 1830s and sits on stacked stones. There is a graveyard just a couple of hundred feet away. And when I look at those gravestones, I think of really hard winters and bitter, bitter loss. I think about what spring probably meant to the generations who never knew Tamiflu, who had no hospital.
There have been perhaps 165 springs since that old house was built. The daffodils are the first flowers to bloom at our place. And they do so only a few feet from that old house. It may be coincidence. But it seems purposeful, like a remnant of long ago wishes for spring.
Of course, spring passes quickly. Too bad. Because summertime, well, you’re just spring on performance enhancing drugs. You’re a car oven. You’re a yard burnt toast brown.
Fall, you’re a colorful guest, fun for a while, but increasingly morose, dark and unpleasant as the night goes on. Winter, if you are indeed an old man, may I never be like you, cause you got an attitude problem. Why do you get so mad at my car at night? Why do you stand at every door ready to slap people in the face? Why don’t you chill out?
But spring, I sure love you: the smells, the hours outside in the sun, the shedding of jackets. You’re the best.
Well, OK, can you take it easy on the pollen? And, oh yeah, no tornadoes please.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.